The use of e-cigarettes – also known as vaping – has spiked in Lucas County the last few years. A Toledo-Lucas County Health Department tobacco prevention employee says the popularity of e-cigarettes among youth is especially a concern since youth who use vaping products are four times more likely to smoke or use other drugs.
Youth are attracted to vaping products in part because they like the flavored liquid in e-cigarettes, and they also contain addictive nicotine, said Safa Ibrahim, MPH, CTTS, SIT, Tobacco Prevention Program Coordinator at the Health Department.
“That’s my biggest concern is the nicotine,” Safa said. “Your body develops a tolerance to it, and you’re going to end up needing more and more.”
To help prevent teens from using e-cigarettes, Toledo City Council has banned the sale of pre-filled flavored vaping cartridges. Vape shops in Toledo that have 60% or more in e-cigarette sales can sell flavored e-liquids, vape devices and unflavored vaping cartridges. Meanwhile, convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers in Toledo can only sell unflavored vaping cartridges.
As co-founder of northwest Ohio’s Anti-Tobacco and Nicotine Alliance and chair of the Tobacco Free Ohio Alliance, Safa worked with Toledo Councilman Larry Sykes to develop the ban. She also gives educational presentations on vaping to students, school nurses and other groups in Lucas County to increase awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
In Lucas County, the average age of onset for smoking was 12.5 years, according to the 2016/2017 Lucas County Community Health Assessment. Plus, in the prior year, 7% of youth had used e-cigarettes, according to the assessment.
Healthy Lucas County’s next community health assessment will have updated data on youth smoking and vaping. A report on the 2019/2020 Lucas County Community Health Assessment will be released in December 2020.
The Health Department surveyed Lucas County residents last year to get feedback on tobacco and smoke-free policies. Among respondents, 68% think e-cigarettes shouldn’t be allowed in places that prohibit smoking, including public places and places of employment, according to the survey conducted every two years. More survey responses can be found in the infographic below.
Deciding to Quit
Youth are not the only ones who have taken to vaping. Some adults use e-cigarettes to help them quit nicotine.
That only works, however, if users gradually taper back on vaping so they are using less nicotine, Safa said. Otherwise, their addiction to nicotine will remain, she said. And the long-term effects of vaping on people of any age are not yet known, she added.
“Most people who use it end up taking both, the cigarettes and the vaping,” said Safa, who said vaping products may contain unknown substances along with nicotine, cancer-causing substances, heavy metals and more.
To help young people quit vaping, This Is Quitting is a text message program from the Truth Initiative that incorporates messages from other young people who have attempted to or successfully quit. Young people can text DITCHJUUL to 88709 to get free help. Parents also can receive free messages about helping their children quit vaping by texting QUIT to (202) 899-7550.
Another quitting option is the Ohio Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a free program for all ages that offers counseling over the phone. To connect to in-person cessation services, call the Health Department’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program at 419-213-2445.